Huawei MatePad Pro 12.6: From discord comes Harmony


IN the first part of our review we talked about the build quality and the excellent display of Huawei’s most premium tablet. After using the Huawei Matepad Pro 12.6 for another week, let me share with you my thoughts on its audio quality, performance, cameras and, most importantly, the HarmonyOS experience.


FOR its loudspeakers, Huawei introduces an all-new audio solution that features an incredible eight-speaker sound system (although you only see two on each side) with separate tweeters and woofers. The array of speakers consists of four tweeters and four woofers, with the woofers responsible for handling low-frequency, high-amplitude sound waves, and the tweeter lineup accountable for high-frequency, low-amplitude sound waves. This combination results in what could be the best speaker system on a tablet. Its loud, crisp and you can hear the differences between the delicate treble and powerful bass. Whether you are watching movies or listening to your favorite songs, that professional Harman Kardon tuning provides you with a truly superb audio experience—trust me, you wouldn’t want to use earphones with this tablet.

Background noise can really be distracting when you are on a video call or attending online classes. The MatePad Pro has a self-developed AI noise reduction features that can distinguish between voices and noise in real time and filter out the latter so that you are only listening to the voices that you want to hear, allowing for more effective communication.


FOR a while, Huawei was the king of smartphone cameras, so you’d expect the MatePad Pro to have great cameras—and you’d be right. Huawei kitted out the MatePad Pro 12.6 with three cameras: a 13-megapixel primary lens, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 3D depth-sensing sensor. It can take very nice photos in good lighting and there’s even night mode if you need to take some indoor shots. You also get a wide selection of modes from PRO, portrait, slow-mo, panorama light painting, moving picture, and an AR Lens. Comparing it to other tablets, the MatePad Pro definitely has better cameras—just don’t expect Huawei P or Mate series-grade cameras as you get more of a Nova quality—great but not spectacular. Still, I wouldn’t recommend waving your tablet around to take photos just because of its size and bulk. 

As for the front camera, you get an 8MP shooter that is located on the length of the screen. It may not be ideal for TikTok or Snapchat but the placement is perfect for video calls, and if you are calling other Huawei devices you can use MeeTime for HD quality video chats.


THE MatePad Pro 12.6 has a Kirin 9000E chip and it does a fine job of running things smoothly as this 5nm 5G SoC is capable of multi-tasking, processing massive amounts of data, and powering real-time AI computing with ease. I’ve been using it to post on my blog while on Zoom calls, played some casual games, scrolled through my social media feeds, and tried my hand at sketching using the M-Pencil—and not once did it lag, stutter, or keep me waiting.

As for the battery, the MatePad Pro is equipped with a huge 10,050mAh battery. Together with the efficient performance of the Kirin 9000E and the power-saving technology of HarmonyOS, Huawei promises up to 14 hours of continuous local 1080p HD video playback, and 9 hours of unimpeded web browsing can be supported on a single charge. Last night, I watched three episodes of What If? with WiFi turned on, did some browsing, and posted a couple of blog entries in between, and I still had 70% battery left. I’m pretty sure it will last you at least a day of productive work (and a bit of play) before reaching for the plug.

It supports the 40W Huawei SuperCharge and you could fully charge the tablet in about two hours. In addition, it also features both wireless and reverse wireless charging capabilities so you could charge your headphones, watches, fitness trackers devices simply by placing it on the back panel of the tablet.


LAST year, I would have bought the MatePad Pro if I hadn’t missed the preorder deal which included the M-Pencil and Smart Keyboard. Huawei is proposing the MatePad Pro as an outlet for creativity and productivity, and you’ll need these two accessories to fully make use of the tablet’s capabilities.

First, the 2nd Generation M-Pencil. The hexagonal unibody design is inspired by traditional wooden pencils but with a smoother barrel design for enhanced comfort and grip and a transparent tip that showcases the inner workings of the pencil. Huawei’s M-Pencil is very accurate when it comes to pointing, handwriting, and drawing, and the 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity lets you write a sentence or draw circles with different levels of force.

The M-Pencil features Bluetooth automatic pairing connectivity and magnetic charging. Just 30 seconds of fast charging supplies enough power for ten full minutes of use and a full charge lets you use it for approximately 10 hours. When not in use, you can simply attach it to either of the longer sides of the MatePad—that keeps it secure and keep it charged at the same time.

The MatePad includes three preinstalled apps for the stylus: M-Pen Zone, Nebo for Huawei, and MyScript Calculator. You might also want to download the JNotes app from the App Gallery as it supports Huawei’s Pencil Engine’s stroke prediction algorithm; Noteshelf, which provides a wide array of brushes that can be customized to all sorts of different colors and levels of thickness. If you are into drawing there’s Tayasui Sketches, or you could try FlipaClip to animate your drawings.

Since I am more of a writer than an artist, it’s the Smart Keyboard that I find even more useful. It snaps snuggly to the back of the Matepad Pro and double as a case/stand. However, as is typical with keyboard covers, the keys themselves are ultra-slim so there’s very little travel. There are also large gaps between the keys, so it’s a bit hard for fast typers. If you are creating or editing a lot of documents, make sure to get a Smart Keyboard with your MatePad Pro.

It’s a good thing you can buy them separately. Unfortunately, both accessories are quite pricey, so if you are planning to get a MatePad Pro, it’s best to look out for promos that already include these two.


NOW for the most important question of all: How is the HarmonyOS?

The short answer is: promising.

Running on HarmonyOS 2, the MatePad Pro 12.6  was very intuitive to use as its very “Android-esque” to say the least. It also feels very familiar to anyone that’s ever used a Huawei device before because of  its EMUI roots.

There’s an app dock along the bottom that gives quick access to your favorites, while the apps and widgets are organized neatly into folders.

So, yes, it is a brand new OS developed by Huawei, but it can run Android apps except for those that require Google Mobile Service (GMS). Instead of the Google Play Store, you get your apps via the App Gallery. And if you can’t find it there, you can use Petal Search to find those APK files. Just remember to exercise caution when sideloading apps and make sure to get it from trusted “app markets” if you can.

I’ve downloaded almost all my usual apps either through the AppGallery or via Petal Search and I’ve even installed Netflix, HBO Go and Prime Video on my tablet. They all work well with the caveat that you can only stream videos in SD definition, which is unfortunate but still watchable.

The AppGallery is already the world’s third largest app marketplace, and there is no shortage of available apps for you to download, and while the number of essential apps has improved a lot, it’s the quality and filtering of useless, spammy applications that Huawei needs to further address.

Swipe to the leftmost screen to open Petal Search where much is organized quite nicely, with a feed, news updates, weather, music, etc. Huawei has also developed several other alternatives such as Petal Maps and Petal Translate. I only wish it had  a “photos” app with unlimited storage like Google Photos before.

Last year, one of the unique features of the MatePad Pro was desktop mode. Well, it’s gone now, and in its place is the new PC-tablet Multi-screen Collaboration, which includes three modes: Mirror Mode, Extend Mode and Collaborate Mode. 

In Mirror Mode, the laptop is mirrored to the tablet, showing exactly the same content. The M-Pencil can not only be used for handling tablet tasks, but it can sign, add comments and draw for PC tasks. In Extend Mode, the tablet serves as an additional display for the PC to have more space to display content, it’s like having two screens. In Collaborate Mode, you can directly use the PC’s mouse to drag and drop files (such as images, videos, audio files, documents, etc.) between the two devices, which is much more straightforward.

 To help you multitask the MatePad Pro 12.6 allows up to four app windows to be shown on the screen at one time. To set up, swipe left from the right of the tablet screen to activate the Multi-Window dock, and quickly select two applications. Then, hold and drag them onto the screen—one will appear on the left side and the other on the right. You can also adjust the size of the application windows. This works great when chatting with friends while shopping online at the same time, or reading e-mails while editing files because of the large screen.

Huawei is really leaning into integrating all of its products into its ecosystem, and HarmonyOS is making that happen.


DESPITE the surge in the demand because of work- and learn-from-home arrangements, Android tablets haven’t been getting the same love unlike its iOS counterpart.  Huawei is going full steam with HarmonyOS and this first implementation on the MatePad Pro shows a lot of potential. It’s not groundbreaking, but that is okay as it’s very intuitive to use for anyone who’s used Android.

Unless your organization or you are totally dependent on Google’s apps, the MatePad Pro offers highly competitive hardware that shows there can be life outside Google’s ecosystem.

The lack of GMS isn’t the biggest problem for Huawei, as the browser alternatives and the workarounds aren’t as cumbersome as before, plus the introduction of Petal Search and the rest of the Petal alternatives are becoming more useful. They just need to improve the quality of apps found in its marketplace, and weed out those useless apps.

If the app situation is ever resolved, the MatePad Pro will be a no-brainer. Still, if you are looking for a powerful tablet with an amazing display, audio and accessories that will let you unleash your creativity—the Huawei MatePad Pro 12.6 is all that, if you don’t mind the lofty price tag. 

Read full article on BusinessMirror